Today is a very special day in the calendar of Turkey. October 29th is the Republic Day of Turkey or 29 Ekim Cumhuriyet Bayramı.
The day is a public holiday and marks the anniversary of the proclamation of the Turkish Republic when Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was named as its first leader.
Republic Day is also commemorated in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
Republic Day, Turkey – Cumhuriyet Bayramı
On October 28th, 1923, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk announced that the Turkish Republic would be proclaimed the following day. So the 28th is also part of the Republic Day commemorations.
If you have Turkish friends on social media, you will see some of them sharing images of Atatürk with his famous phrase,
“Efendiler, yarın cumhuriyet ilan edeceğiz.” (Ladies and gentlemen, tomorrow we will proclaim the republic.)
The proclamation of the Republic was made possible following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
Victory in the Turkish War of Independence and the subsequent Treaty of Lausanne meant the end of the Ottoman Empire and a new republic.
Of course, Gazi Mustafa Kemal (later to be given the title Atatürk – Father of Turks) was the first president of the Republic of Turkey.
And if you know Turkey, you’ll know that Atatürk’s image hangs from walls in all public buildings, even in the tiniest of shops and offices.
His statue is also to be found in towns and cities throughout the country.
The statues are of Atatürk in various guises and each has one of his famous quotes at the base.
A common one is, “Ne mutlu Türküm diyene.” (How happy is the one who can call himself a Turk?) This was the quote chosen for Fethiye’s latest Atatürk statue.
We love to hunt out Atatürk statues when we visit new places just to see which image was chosen.
These statues are often gathering points for people on Republic Day.
It was decided that the flag of the Turkish republic would be a plain red background with white crescent moon and star.
Today, the Turkish flag flies proudly from buildings, statues, hilltops, boats and everywhere else.
Even if you just visit the country for a few days, we would hazard a guess and say there is no way you will leave without knowing what the Turkish flag looks like! It’s everywhere.
On Cumhuriyet Bayramı, as with other Turkish national holidays, those same Turkish flags will be flying.
Government offices and other public buildings will also have huge flags draped from the uppermost point, often covering most of the building.
Some will have just the Turkish flag whilst others will also have a flag with the image of Atatürk.
You can also expect to see Turkish flags of various sizes dangling from the windows and balconies of people’s homes.
This is quite a sight if you’re in an area with high rise apartment blocks and flags are draped from numerous balconies.
Cumhuriyet Bayramı / Republic Day In Cities
And, on Republic Day, members of parliament, dignitaries, military and flag-waving members of the public go to pay their respects to the founder.
Military parades will also take place.
Expect gatherings in various parts of these cities and – especially in staunchly secular Izmir – huge, celebratory firework displays.
Cumhuriyet Bayramı / Republic Day In Fethiye
Republic Day in Turkey is not just celebrated in the big cities, though. We also get to take part in commemorations here in Fethiye where various events will take place.
Schools hold their own commemorations and children take part in organised displays at the local Fethiyespor stadium.
Republic Day Paramotors
And it’s not just the Ölüdeniz Air Games that are reserved for paramotor displays.
We can’t have any events in Fethiye these days without the presence of paramotors. Cumhuriyet Bayramı is no different.
Paramotors, piloted by members of Turkey’s aeronautical association, can be seen gliding up and down the seafront with the flag of Turkey and Atatürk trailing behind.
Various Fethiye dignitaries and members of the different associations gather at either of the Atatürk statues in town.
The Turkish National Anthem (İstiklal Marşı) will be sung and public speeches given.
Incidentally, if you find yourself wandering by any of these gatherings on Republic Day – or at any other time, for that matter – and the National Anthem is playing, it’s polite to stand still until the finish.
The vast majority of Turkish people will stand still with their arms by their side.
At night time on Republic Day around Fethiye, locals often gather to take part in torchlight processions led by musical bands.
This is a beautiful sight, if you can be around to witness it.
We took part in the procession for the 90th anniversary of the Turkish Republic in 2013. As you can imagine, that was a huge turn out.
Since the harbour and the town square have been built, the route goes along the harbour, passing all the restaurants (who also fly their flags) before finishing in the town square (Beşkaza Meydanı) at the statue of Atatürk.
We love this part of the celebration of Republic Day in Fethiye and hope for many more to come.
29 Ekim Cumhuriyet Bayramımız Kutlu Olsun
(Let our 29th October Republic Day be a happy one)